Earlier this week President Obama had the right idea. He stated he did not have the facts. He further stated that he should not comment. Till that moment, the Cambridge Massachusetts arrest of Henry Louis Gates Jr., was a local matter only. Heed your own advice Mr. President. It would have served you well.

The Headline early morning on July 25, 2009 by Nancy Benac, an Associated Press writer blasts, “Obama Rushes to Quell Racial Uproar He Helped Fire” The subheading is just as interesting: “Obama hastens to tamp down racial uproar over his comments about black professor’s arrest”.


Let’s look at the few scattered facts that are out there all over the internet and on the news.


1.- A neighbor see two people trying to break into the home of Professor Gates. (a female caller who said she saw “two black males with backpacks on the porch,” one of whom was “wedging his shoulder into the door as if he was trying to force entry,” according to a police report. Associated Press Melissa Trujillo, July 21, 2009)

2.- Police arrive at the scene.

3.- Police enter the home and after some time leave with Professor gates in cuffs.

4.- Professor Gates is booked with charges of Disorderly Conduct.

5.- Prosecutors decide to drop the charges and statements followed by the city of Cambridge (The city of Cambridge called the arrest “regrettable and unfortunate,” and police and Gates agreed that dropping the charge was a just resolution: Associated Press Melissa Trujillo, July 21, 2009 )


Police have a tough enough job as it is. There is a legitimate concern by a neighbor that someone is breaking into a home. How many of these types of calls end up with an arrest being made because someone truly was breaking in and trying to damage the home or take goods. Police have a tough job. Not to over dramatize this, but they do put their health – if not life – on the line each day to protect all of us from crime; and typically we complain that they don’t help us in our moment of need.


Had President Obama heeded his own advise things would be different today. But, he did not. He went on to make the now infamous statement “the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home”


IF the arrest had been for breaking and entering, then it may be justified that the police should have checked the ID’s and resolved the matter there in the house. However, that was not the charge. The charge was “Disorderly Conduct” and that is a different matter. You may make some assumptions. I am not. The charge was dropped. But the comments kept on coming.


Not only did President Obama step into a local matter and give it National relevance, but in truth has probably done more harm than good in the fight against racial tensions in the United States at a time when our Economy needs us all pulling in the same direction. Class warfare is counter productive. Racial discrimination is counter productive. Incendiary rhetoric does far more harm than good. These are all facts.


Both President Obama and Professor Gates made similar statements:


Obama “But during his Friday remarks, Obama said he hoped the controversy surrounding Gates’ arrest provides Americans with “a teachable moment” on how they can improve “relations between police officers and minority communities.””


Gates: [In an e-mail Friday to CNN’s Don Lemon, Gates wrote, “I was very pleased that the president called me today, and I was pleased that he proposed that I meet with Sgt. Crowley at the White House, since I had offered to meet with him since last Monday.


“I am eager for this to be used as a teaching moment to improve racial relations in America,” said the e-mail. “This is certainly not about me.” ]


Notice that both men are pointing to a Teachable moment to help improver racial relations. Well, I’d like to close with the measured words from Crowley and Deninis O’Connor, President of the Cambridge Police Superior Officers Association:


“It’s noteworthy that both qualified their statements by saying they did not have all the facts,” O’Connor said as members of his and another police union stood behind him. “Usually, when one hears those words, one would expect the next words to be ‘so I cannot comment.’ Instead, both officials, both admitted friends of professor Gates, proceeded to insult the handling of this case.”


THE LESSON: If you don’t know the facts, don’t voice your opinion it is likely to be wrong and may be damaging. If you do know the facts, stick to them and don’t deviate or you’ll likely be wrong and may be damaging.

My grandfather told me many times (since I did like to talk a lot as a child), it is better to sit quietly on the side and have people think you are not very smart, than to open your mouth and prove it.

Respectfully submitted

The Lee’s Summit Conservative

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